FALMOUTH, England (AP) – Group of Seven leaders aim to complete their first summit in two years with a hard-hitting set of promises on Sunday, including vaccinating the world against the coronavirus, making big companies pay their fair share of taxes and tackling climate change with a mix of technology and money.
They want to show that international cooperation is back after the upheaval caused both by the pandemic and the unpredictability of former US President Donald Trump. And they want to make it clear that the club of wealthy democracies – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US – is a better friend of poorer nations than authoritarian rivals like China.
But he wasn’t sure how firm the group’s commitments on coronavirus vaccines, the economy, and the environment are when executives release their final press release. It was also unclear whether all the leaders would support the US call to rebuke China for cracking down on its Uyghur minority and other abuses.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the summit, wanted the three-day meeting to fly the flag of a ‘Global Britain’, his government’s move to give the midsize country disproportionate influence over matters. of global problem solving.
Brexit cast a shadow over this goal during the summit on England’s southwest coast. European Union leaders and US President Joe Biden have raised concerns over issues related to new UK-EU trade rules that have exacerbated tensions in Northern Ireland.
But overall, the mood was positive: leaders smiled for the cameras on cliff-lined Carbis Bay beach, a village and resort town that became a crowded fortress for the meeting. The last G-7 summit took place in France in 2019. The pandemic scuttled the event planned for 2020 in the United States.
The leaders mingled with Queen Elizabeth II at a royal reception on the first night and were served steak and lobster at a beach barbecue on the second.
The allies of the United States were visibly relieved to find the United States as a committed international actor after the Trump administration’s “America First” policy.
“The United States is back and the democracies of the world stand together,” Biden said upon arriving in the UK on the first overseas trip of his 5-month presidency. After the G-7 summit, the president is due to have tea with the Queen on Sunday, attend a NATO summit in Brussels on Monday and meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.
At the G-7, Johnson described Biden as a “breath of fresh air”. French President Emmanuel Macron, after speaking one-on-one with Biden, said: “It’s great to have a US president who is part of the club and very willing to cooperate.”
The re-energized G-7 made ambitious statements at its meetings on educating girls, preventing future pandemics, and using the financial system to finance green growth. Above all, they pledged to share vaccine doses with less well-off countries that urgently need them. Johnson said the group will pledge at least 1 billion doses, with half from the United States and 100 million from Britain.
World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the vaccine promise but said it was not enough. To truly end the pandemic, he said, 11 billion doses are needed to immunize at least 70% of the world’s population by the middle of next year.
“We need more and we need it faster,” Tedros said.
Public health advocates have said it takes more than just doses, including money and logistical help to get injections into the arms of people in poorer countries.
“It’s not enough to send vaccines to capitals,” said Lily Caprani, COVID-19 vaccine advocacy officer for UNICEF. “We cannot let them potentially get lost or be in danger or risk not being delivered. So a true end-to-end solution is needed.
The final executive statement is expected to officially adopt imposing a global minimum tax of at least 15% on large multinational companies to prevent companies from using tax havens to shift profits and avoid taxes.
The minimum rate has been championed by the United States and aligns with Biden – and Johnson’s – goal of focusing the summit on ways in which democracies can work together to build a more inclusive and equitable global economy and compete with it. rising autocracies like China.
India, South Korea, Australia and South Africa, non-G-7 countries, were invited to participate as guests to strengthen the group’s support for other democracies.
The White House said leaders also agreed to an infrastructure plan, the Global Build Back Better plan, to help low- and middle-income countries. The move is a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has increased Beijing’s influence in countries around the world.
White House officials have said Biden wants G-7 leaders to speak with one voice against forced labor practices targeting Uyghur Muslims in China and other ethnic minorities. Biden hopes the denunciation will be part of a joint statement on Sunday, but some European allies are reluctant to part with Beijing so forcefully.
The summit was also supposed to focus on climate change and set the stage for the United Nations climate conference to be held in Scotland in November.
Climate activists and analysts have said that filling an annual $ 100 billion fund to help poor countries tackle the effects of global warming should be high on the G-7’s to-do list.
Johnson’s office said he met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday and the two agreed on the need for countries to step up and make ambitious commitments to cut emissions of carbon and phase out the use of coal.
But very little substance on the subject has so far emerged from the talks, much to the frustration of environmental protesters who have gathered nearby to get their message out.
Large crowds of surfers and kayakers took to the sea in a mass protest on Saturday to call for more action to protect the oceans, as thousands chanted and beat drums as they marched past the summit media center in Falmouth.
“The G-7 is greenwashing,” sang the demonstrators. “We are drowned in promises, now is the time to act.”
Follow all of AP’s stories on climate change issues at https://apnews.com/hub/Climate.